A TEENAGER who videoed his friend kicking a 74-year-old man into the Mersey has walked free from court.

The 16-year-old boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was told he was lucky not to be facing a manslaughter charge over the shocking attack on a stretch of the river in Howley back in April.

Warrington Guardian:

He was handed a 12-month youth referral order on Thursday, June 4, after admitting a joint enterprise assault in connection with the incident.

Warrington Magistrates Court heard that the pensioner was attacked as he stood on the banks of the water near to Riverside Retail Park, opposite an area known as Monkey Island, at around 2.30pm on Sunday, April 25.

As the teen filmed on his mobile phone, 18-year-old Benjamin Bridgeman delivered a sickening fly-kick to the victim's back before running away laughing.

Warrington Guardian:

Benjamin Bridgeman

He banged his head as he was sent careering into the river, having been magnet fishing before he was accosted.

The clip, which was played to the court, was then posted to Snapchat.

Two 14-year-old girls, Ellie Hughes and Khloe Woods, formed a human chain in order to rescue the man from the fast-flowing Mersey.

After walking home soaking wet and shivering, his family reported the assault to the police.

Warrington Guardian:

The moments before the attack

The defendant, who has no previous convictions, handed himself into police four days after the attack after a public appeal for information.

Defending, Ian Waites told the court: "It's obviously a very severe incident.

"He could have been on the end of a manslaughter charge.

"Thank goodness somebody plucked the man out of the river.

"It was never a malicious, sadistic act done to cause someone harm – it was a crude prank to gain kudos on social media.

"It's despicable behaviour, completely stupid and highly dangerous.

"My client accepts all of that.

"Young people do incredibly stupid things, but this is probably in a league of its own."

When asked to address the judge, the youth added: "If I could go back in time I wouldn't do it.

"I'm just really sorry about what I did.

"That night, I couldn't sleep because I felt guilty.

"I handed myself in because I felt so guilty."

District judge Nicholas Sanders considered imposing a custodial sentence before imposing the penalty.

Sentencing, he said: "Let me say that no-one is laughing now about what you did.

"It doesn't matter whether he was 74, 54 or 24, that sort of behaviour is just horrible.

"Inflicting pain on someone for a laugh is a horrible thing to do.

"Not only that, you filmed it and published it on social media and you left him in the water waiting for other people much more publicly-minded and good spirited than you are to go and save him.

Warrington Guardian:

Rescuers Ellie Hughes and Khloe Woods

"You should be deeply ashamed of what you did.

"This could easily have been something a lot more serious.

"I never ever want to see you back before this court again.

"It's your only chance – you have been warned what will happen if you fail to comply."

The boy's mum was also told to pay £500 in compensation to the victim.

Bridgeman, of Quebec Road in Orford, is due to be sentenced by the same court next week after admitting assault.